Directed by Mateusz Rakowicz of ‘Romantik’ fame, ‘The Getaway King’ is a visceral action crime thriller full of colors and glitters and an air of romance. The movie lends a cinematic lens to the life of Zdzisław Najmrodzki, a celebrated Polish criminal whose charisma swayed an entire nation. The titular “Getaway King” builds a crime empire by stealing cars after a modest beginning, robbing luxury stores in Communist-era Poland.
In the 70s and the 80s, Najmrodzki heads to the prison on several occasions, evading the bars every time. While focusing on the charismatic family guy persona of Najmrodzki, the movie lends a look at a crucial chapter in Polish history, albeit distancing through retro glasses. One of the movie’s central characters is Barski, and you may wonder if his character is based on an actual officer. In that case, let us probe deeper. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Who Is Barski In The Getaway King? Is He Based on a Real Person?
Barski is one of the central characters in the story, and his old-school cop attitude adds another endearing aspect to the cerebral cat-and-mouse game. Barski is a veteran police chief from the Polish communist-era police force, popularly known as the Civilian Militia. They are also called the 997 militia, possibly after the dialing number of Polish emergency services, “997.” Barski’s sidekick in the story is Ujma, who often expresses awe at the crime rather than trying to solve it.
Barski stays one step ahead and, on his intuition, discovers the passage behind the movie poster in the Pewex store robberies. Barski takes Najmrodzki to the headquarters, and although the latter tries to dilute the situation, he gets a good beating at the hands of Barski. However, Najmrodzki manages to escape even then, and Barski feels miserable. While chasing Najmrodzki, Barski’s car goes up in flames in one instance. However, Najmrodzki decides to rescue his pursuer rather than shying away from the situation.
Towards the transition to the capitalist era, luxury goods are no more exclusively available at Pewex stores. Thus, Najmrodzki has a moment of enlightenment, deciding to shift to stealing cars. At this juncture, the police catch him once again, and he gets a sentence of several years in prison. However, with some grace from his mother Mira and his associates, Najmrodzki escapes through an underground tunnel.
The militia leader, Lieutenant Wrobel, thinks that Najmrodzki should be stopped, even if it requires killing. In his final tour at a car fair, Najmrodzki gets caught thanks to Ujma’s open firing. As a result, Ujma gets promoted to the role of lieutenant, and Barski loses his previous authority. The story comes full circle when Barski sways from the side of the law and decides to help Najmrodzki escape the tail of renegade car theft gang member Antos. In the end, Barski saves Najmrodzki’s life. But you may wonder whether Barski is based on a real-life policeman.
Well, his character may have a real-life inspiration, after all. Seemingly, the writers built the character of Barski on former elite officer Jaroslaw Kosciuszko, who was involved in Najmrodzki’s case. He resigned from duty around the same time, in the early 1990s. However, the cinematic story does not always adhere to the actual incidents from close quarters. Therefore, the story’s specifics, including Barski’s last attempt to save Najmrodzki, should very well be fictional, especially since Najmrodzki’s life does not end as depicted in the movie.
Read More: Where Was The Getaway King Filmed?